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6th Graders Transform Ponus Ridge Courtyard

Outdoor classroom blends disciplines

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Norwalk, CT | Added on June 18, 2014 At 12:45 PM

"It's just beautiful that people can do this with nature,"said sixth grader Tarun Latheshkumar.

What was once an unused courtyard is now an outdoor learning space at Ponus Ridge Middle School.

Sixth grader Stacey Sanchez said, "There was way to much grass, way to many leaves. It was really messy and I really wanted to improve it just because it would be really nice for the school."

"Particularly in middle school, kids need to get their 'ya-yas" out! They are sitting in a seat for a really long period of time. A lot of times adults can't even sit that long. For them to be able to have a designated space where they can have outdoor learning and outdoor class was really important to me," said Nancy McTague-Stock, who designed the project entitled the "Golden Learning Circle."

Working with the Silvermine Arts Center's Art Partners Outreach Education Program, 6th graders transformed the courtyard while connecting their social studies, english and science curriculum.

Ali Mills said, "We learned about how Andy Goldworthy, the artist we were trying to mimick, how he used the environment and reused it to make something beautiful."

"We had them hunt and gather sticks in the courtyard and then we painted them. We used the rainbow as a weather and science reference in conjunction with art," said McTague-Stock.

Students say being able to see the finished product at the end of the school year was worth all their hard work.

Sixth grader Joseph Genette said, "Before it was just a whole bunch of dead grass, the dirt was really hard. We came in and got all the bad dirt and grass out and we planted flowers and nice bushes that will make the courtyard look nice and put painted rocks to symbolize waves around them."

"To me what mostly mattered was teamwork. If we worked alone, it really wouldn't represent something. Ponus Ridge Middle School represents teamwork and students working together," said sixth grader Nicole Ostaszewski.

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